You are not alone if you are one of the millions of adults across our planet who are divorced, and thinking about dating again. I hear from my clients all the time that they are scared to get back out and date again. They are scared that history will repeat itself if they get in a new relationship.
They have good reason to worry, and so do you. That is, if you haven’t fixed your thinking yet. If you are thinking thoughts like “I hope I don’t meet someone like my ex”, chances are, you are going to meet someone like your ex. Call it the law of attraction, or the power of your subconscious mind, or call it something else, but what I know to be true is this; what we tell our brain to think about and find evidence of, it will go on autopilot and find evidence of those things. If your thought is “I hope I don’t find someone like my ex”, you will find many people like your ex. If your thought is “I can’t wait to meet someone who’s thoughtful and kind”, you will find someone thoughtful and kind.
I could tell you dozens of stories from my clients’ lives or I could just tell you about my own. Since I know my own story inside and out, I’ll do that. When I was dating my first husband I was 24 years old. In the religious setting I grew up in I was considered by many to be an “old maid” at 24, and literally was told by multiple people that I was a “menace to society” if I wasn’t married by 25. There was PRESSURE to find a spouse. I didn’t have much experience dating, so when a handsome, nice guy started paying attention to me I was feeling pretty lucky. We got along pretty well, but there were some red flags. At one point I had the thought, “This is as good as I’m ever going to get. So even if I’m settling a little, I better take this one.”
The biggest red flag that I became aware of before we married was his issues with looking at porn. One night, a few weeks before our wedding, we were walking across campus, after dark, and he said really quickly in passing “I just wanted to let you know that when I was much younger I used to have a problem looking at porn. But I’ve stopped and it’s over now.” I was a little stunned, I simply asked “It’s over now? Like you don’t look at it anymore?” And he said “yup, it’s over.” And I trusted him and we never spoke about it again before we were married.
After our wedding I would find out that the reason he told me that night was that his roommate had found him on the computer the night before looking at porn and told him, “Look, you tell Kendra or I’m going to tell her, but she deserves to know.” So that was him “telling me”, except it wasn’t an honest portrayal of events.
I could go on and on about the things that lead to the breakdown of our 9 year marriage, but you are here to hear about dating after divorce, so let’s skip to the good part. At the time I divorced my first husband I was still very active in my church community, and I believed that I NEEDED a husband to take care of me and provide for me. After waiting a while once the divorce was final, I ventured onto the dreaded dating sites. I had varying degrees of success. I messaged guys from all over the country, went on actual dates with a few. No one from online panned out back then.
I met a few guys at local events. One I started dating and he wanted to get serious really fast. He proposed to me after dating for just 3 months. This seemed super fast to me–even in our religious circle, it was really fast. That night I remember thinking that I probably would have said no, or at least had a longer conversation with him about it, except he had made it a big spectacle. He proposed when all 3 of my young kids were there and his mom and sister were hiding in the background taking pictures. I said “yes” with my words, but in my mind I had the thought, “I can say yes now, and I can always change my mind before we get married if I want to.”
I quickly learned that the reason he needed to get engaged so quickly was because he is an Overt Narcissist. He was not able to hide the very unpleasant trades of this personality disorder longer than 3 months. I think he thought that now that he “had me” he didn’t have to pretend anymore. I’m not sure, but I was NOT impressed. He would schedule talks ahead of time, send me lists of questions he wanted to discuss and make me type out my answers ahead of time so I couldn’t change my mind about something in the moment. He wanted to know what I really thought about these topics, not being influenced by any of his answers.
To make a long story short, I broke off our engagement and gave him back the ring very shortly after we got engaged. I knew very quickly that he was not willing to work on himself or change in any way, and the rigidness in how he expected me to live my life and behave was not going to fly with me. After this experience I thought I knew what to look for. I had read books on narcissism and I really thought I knew how to avoid that again. Little did I know that Covert Narcissists have very different traits.
When I met my second husband I thought he was so charming. He seemed so different from my first husband or the guy I had been engaged to. We dated for a year and a half before we got married. I thought for sure we had been dating long enough to have seen everything and not have any narcissistic surprises. WRONG. Like overt narcissists, covert ones put down their walls and let their true colors show once they think they “got you” but that is usually after marriage, not engagement. As soon as I moved in with my second husband things started to change very quickly. In fact, I distinctly remember having the thought, “I need to just take everything back inside and unpack,” before we drove away from my old apartment.
Unfortunately I didn’t take things back inside, I moved from Seattle to Portland and blended our two families. I put my whole heart and soul into blending the kids and I did a damn good job! Even now, more than a year after our divorce, our 7 children (3 of mine, and 4 of his) are very tightly knit and love each other very much. I consider my blending of the kids one of my greatest accomplishments as a mother.
But there is nothing that can heal the pain of narcissistic abuse except escaping the narcissist. So just over a year ago I made the very hard decision to divorce a second time. Let me tell you, I told anyone that would listen that I would NEVER DATE AGAIN! Not for all the money in the world would I ever date again. For one, I was sure that my “picker” was broken. I mean every guy I had dated or married had turned out to be a dud. And if the picker wasn’t broken, then I was also sure that there were not any good men left. So my mind was made up, no dating ever again for this girl.
Famous last words right?! Ha! In the first year following my second divorce I started life coach school, and that brought on some DEEP personal learning and growth. I wasn’t just learning the material for a job, I was LIVING what I was learning. I was healing my mind and my thinking. I was taking a real honest look at MY thoughts and examining how I got to where I was. And I did a lot of self-forgiveness. I went back to my younger 24 year old self who thought she was settling and told her I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to abandon her like that. I went to myself who thought she should have unpacked the moving truck and told her I was sorry I didn’t trust her gut feeling. Really, I learned to truly love myself. Like ALL of myself.
And in learning to love myself, and learning that all the love I ever feel comes from within me, I felt whole and wonderful and at peace. AND…. I also kind of wished I had a friend. But this time when the thoughts of dating entered my mind it wasn’t because I felt incomplete without a man, or thought I NEEDED a man to care for me or provide for me. I was thinking about dating because I was having so much fun with myself I thought maybe someone else would want to have fun with me, and we could have fun together. You know, playing games is more fun with someone else than alone.
And so, one brave evening in June, while my kids were away for most of the summer, I got on a dating site. I, as a new woman, was getting on, with clear purpose, and full love for myself, not expecting or wanting a boyfriend, just wanting to meet other people and have fun with other humans. I was very intentional about my profile. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I spent more time telling about me, than what I don’t want. You might be surprised by how many profiles are people saying “I don’t want anyone who eats meat, snores in bed, wears mismatched socks, or paints their nails.” Or whatever weird things they put down. I simply stated a few things I enjoy, and what I WAS looking for, a friend, someone who enjoys chatting and playing board games.
I sent messages from a place of genuine curiosity, and as soon as I felt like I didn’t want to talk to the person, I stopped the conversation. Period. I had entered this world ready to 100% trust my gut. I made that promise to myself and I have kept it. I didn’t need to wait and find proof that the guy was a creep or we were not compatible in some way. Nope, my gut feeling was enough. You guys, that is such a freeing way to date!!!
And much to my surprise, I actually did meet a guy who I went on multiple dates with, and has since become my boyfriend. We’ve been together about 6 months now. I firmly believe that the reason I was able to feel so free in dating, was because I already felt all the love I needed from myself. Any love I get from others is just icing on the cake. I don’t NEED his love and attention, but I am often pleasantly surprised by the ways he shows up in my life. I then have thoughts about the things he does for me and I feel even greater love. I’m enjoying dating him, and hope we continue to date, but I also know that if one of us chose to end things, I’d be 100% ok, because I create all the love I need within myself.
So dear reader, if you are wanting to date, if you are hoping to find “your person”, I can help you get there. The first step will be helping you become that person for yourself. I’m trained and certified and experienced in helping you create that kind of love in your life. And I tell you that becoming that person, the one who fully loves themself, is a magical place to live. And then, when you find another human who fully loves themselves, you will find a healthy relationship. Because you both know how to create love and joy for yourselves.
Even after 2 divorces I guess you would say I still believe in love. I think I just see it a little differently. If you want to have a partner there is nothing wrong with that. Just don’t think you NEED one in order to complete YOU. You are perfect and whole as you are. Having another person is a bonus. There’s nothing wrong with wanting and finding that bonus. First be the person you want to be with, and then when you find someone who is the person they want to be for themselves, you will each be ready for a beautiful and full loving relationship together.
If you would like help returning to this kind of self-love I would be honored to help you. There is help and there is hope. I can help you become the person you want to be with, and coach you as you look for the partner you want to be with. I truly believe that the possibilities in your life are limitless. Because we create our lives with our thoughts, I know I can help you create the life and the relationship you want. Schedule your first session with me here and we can talk about how working together can get you to the place you want to be. Schedule your first, FREE 30 min session HERE.
If this story has resonated with you, and you’d like help finding your own emotional freedom, I’d love to help you. I have devoted my Life Coaching practice to helping people just like you find the freedom and happiness I now enjoy. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know it can be hard to find the right help. No worries, I’m here and ready to help you. Schedule a 60 minute Mindset Makeover call to learn new tools you can put to use right away, that will help you make clear choices in your relationship and help you find emotional freedom. I believe in YOU and I’m excited to share these tools with you. Sign up for your Mindset Makeover, and start living a Trigger-Free life HERE.
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